| 4.1°C Dublin

Swimmer who ignored alert loses legs in shark attack

A BRITISH swimmerlost both legs after he was attacked by a great white shark off a South African beach after ignoring warning signs.

Michael Cohen (42) was about 50 yards from the shore when he was attacked.

Witnesses said one of his legs was bitten off and the other was badly mangled.

Mr Cohen, a part-time accountant who lives in Cape Town, was dragged from the sea by friends who were with him at the city's Fish Hoek beach. Paramedics stabilised him before he was airlifted to hospital in Constantia, where he underwent surgery. Last night, his father was at his bedside.

It was understood that shark warning flags were flying on the beach. However, a siren that was normally sounded to warn of predators did not go off because there was a power cut.


Witnesses said three large great whites had been seen in the area 90 minutes before the attack and on previous days.

Tracy Sassen, a surfer from Clovelly, said: "I just saw a burst of water, then saw the shark spotters running along the beach. I saw people pulling him out of the water. He was still compos mentis but very white. We asked him his name and he said: 'Michael. Please help me'."

Kathy Geldenhuis (58), from Fish Hoek, said she held the drips as paramedics worked on Mr Cohen, who was wearing a diabetic tag. "You could tell there was a shark out there because the seals were coming as close as they could to the beach and the fish were jumping out of the water," she said.